Leadership in the digital age
Digitalisation and the phenomenon of digital transformation is rapidly and fundamentally changing existing businesses and organisations alike (Collin, 2015). Although considered a prime challenge for leaders of complex and changing organisations, research in the combined field of digitalisation and leadership however still remain scarce. As executives are tasked with the leading of digital transformation, this study aims to understand how digitalisation effects top management leadership. To achieve this, the study takes a two-folded approach by (1) outlining six characteristics of digitalisation and (2) analysing how these characteristics effect three contemporary forms of leadership: values-based, transformative and authentic leadership. Through a broad literature survey and 13 in-depth interviews with executives and organisational leaders, the study found that the six identified characteristics of digitalisation all effected the three forms of contemporary leadership. The different characteristics did not only change how the leaders practiced each of their leadership styles, but also how their leadership manifested itself through the use of various digital tools, methods and processes in order to enhance and empower their leadership. Even the sub-features of each leadership form were subject to this fundamental digital change. What was also found were three complementary perspectives when leading complex and changing organisations: the perspective of holism, virtuality and networked-based hubs. Each of these perspectives were premiered aspects to be considered as a contemporary leader.